I suspect many academics have the tendency to assume, once hired, all faculty know exactly what they are doing. Well, first, note that the level and quality of training one receives in graduate school varies across programs and disciplines. And, even the most prestigious/comprehensive programs are not perfect, and many issues related to faculty life are not addressed while one is a graduate student.
So, let’s start by admitting it: new faculty will be required to learn (and flounder, at times) a great deal. This includes acclimating to a new university and town, new colleagues, new department and university politics, new students, and new courses (and, for many, more courses than ever before). And, honestly, many new faculty are still learning how to become better researchers, teachers, and scholars in general. Fortunately, there are more seasoned colleagues available to offer advice, possibly to serve formally or informally as mentors; some of this advice and other resources can be found right on the internet to either supplement advice from within one’s department, or in it’s place in the event that you are embarrassed to ask.
Below are a few resources I have recently come across:
- Advice for your very first week via The Chronicle: familiarize yourself with classroom technology; attend all orientation and new faculty related events; make an effort to meet your colleagues in the department, but be careful not to share too much too soon; (for now) avoid committing to any new projects or types of service that are not required. Also see advice on preparing to teach.
- “The 5 Characteristics of Successful New Faculty Members” via The Chronicle.
- On battling “imposter syndrome” via Inside Higher Ed. Also see a list of 10 tips for junior faculty.
- The Black Academic’s Guide to Winning Tenure–Without Losing Your Soul. Read the entire book immediately. “Jan in the Pan” also provides a list of other useful resources.
- Join the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development. If your university does not have an institutional membership, I would suggest asking your department chair about pushing the university to buy one — and/or about having it or the department cover the cost of your individual membership (as this will help you succeed while on the tenure-track!).
- Choose your battles wisely via Inside Higher Ed
- Tips for mentors of new faculty via Inside Higher Ed. Though this is about new faculty, I found Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s statement about a few ignored truths — we need clear expectations, regular breaks, and support to thrive as we move toward tenure — very helpful.
- Get A Life, Ph.D. by Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza — everything on the site, really! Dr. Golash-Boza offers a great deal of useful advice on being a productive writer. But, also see “How to Welcome New Faculty with Children: Three Tips” and “How To Avoid Spending All of Your Time Teaching: Seven Tips for Efficient Teaching.”
- Make a weekly schedule now. And, make sure it includes time for writing. You may also want to factor in actual breaks — like for lunch — and be serious about setting boundaries on work (i.e., no weekends). Also include things that help you relax and stay healthy.
- Consider joining or creating a writing group — either one to provide regular feedback, one to talk over ideas or how/why you are stuck in your writing, or one just to have a regularly scheduled time to write.
- Assess your values, particularly regarding the tenure-track and all of the stress that it can bring (if you let it). Whether you “drink the koolade” by the gulp, a healthy alternative to perpetual stress for seven years is to let the motivation to be productive come from within.
- Check out Dr. Karen Kelsky‘s (of The Professor Is In) blog, Pearls of Wisdom, specifically posts geared toward new faculty: “How to Plan Your Research and Writing Trajectory on the Tenure Track“, “Advice for Your First Year on the Tenure Track“, and “The Real Life of a Tenure Track Faculty Person.”
Wishing you a successful first year!